Sfax, Tunisia – a city with a touch of France

All about holidays in Sfax

In Tunisia, the second most populous city is called Sfax. It is not particularly loved by tourists, although it has a fairly favorable location – on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach. It is south of Mahdia, about a hundred kilometers away. This city is developing mainly in the commercial direction, there is a major commercial port, an important center of trade and commerce. Many Tunisians believe that the most successful businessmen come from this city. But if you go to Tunisia Sfax just for a vacation, you should learn in advance about the sights, entertainment and planning a future vacation in 2022.

General information about Sfax

Since tourists are not so fond of Sfax, as, for example, the capital of the state – Tunisia, it is interesting to know in advance what is special about this city.

A brief historical background

Not as much is known about Sfax as about the other cities in the country, but there are records in the historical chronicles, which allow to roughly trace its history for several centuries.

The city was founded after the Arab invasion of Tunisia, at the end of the 9th century AD. It quickly gained independence, becoming a city-state, and flourished until the 12th century. In the middle of that century Sfax was conquered by the ruler of Sicily, but was liberated about ten years later. In the 16th century, Sfax was “encroached upon” by the Spanish conquerors. Interestingly, for several centuries, the Berber pirates were very fond of the city.

As you know, in the 19th century, Tunisia was colonized by the French and became their domain in North Africa. During World War II the city was used as an important strategic point, was recaptured from the Nazi coalition by the British. After the war, it was returned to the French. And independent of their influence Tunisia (and Sfax) became in the mid-20th century.

Currently, the city is called the “southern capital” of Tunisia, it is very developed, there is a production of oil and phosphates. Tourism has also recently begun to develop here.

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Summary of Geography and Climate

The city is located in the eastern part of the country, near the popular resort of Mahdia. It stands on the Mediterranean Sea.

In Sfax, logically, the Mediterranean type of climate, as in the country on average. During the winter months it is warm, but there is a lot of rain and no time for swimming, and the summers in Tunisia are very hot and dry. In the hottest month, August, the thermometer column can rise to 30 degrees. Go to Sfax and Tunisia itself is best from late May to late October (if you want a beach holiday). For people who can not stand the heat suit June and September.

Sfax on the map

Planning a trip to Sfax: transport, accommodation, visa, security

Before a trip to Sfax, especially if you plan everything on your own, it is worth finding out all the necessary information about vacationing in this city.

How to get to Sfax and navigate around the city

Getting to Sfax is very easy, because it is the most important transport hub of the country. As a rule, travelers to Tunisia fly through the capital. If you buy airline tickets in advance, a June flight to Tunisia will cost about 11,000 rubles per passenger one way.

There are regular buses, trains and shuttles from the capital to Sfax. A trip by bus will last about five hours and will cost 15-20 dinars (about 500 rubles). The easiest way is to take the shuttle bus. But in this case you will have to wait until it is completely full. Don’t worry, it usually doesn’t take long. A trip on the minibus costs about the same 20 dinars.

The train from the capital to Sfax takes about three and a half hours and the ticket costs exactly the same: about 20 dinars. You can also arrive in Sfax from other cities. There are a large number of buses from other major settlements, including other resort areas.

The best way to get around Sfax itself is by taking a yellow cab. Be sure to tell the driver to make sure to turn on the meter – some drivers love to make money on unsighted Europeans.

The entire central part of Sfax can be easily traversed on foot.

And thanks to the city’s convenient layout, you don’t have to worry about getting lost. On the historical part of the city will have to move exclusively on foot. There are very narrow streets, on which transport does not go. However, the scooter will pass through here, which is sometimes used by local thieves, so be careful and keep your bags and equipment with you.

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Hotel infrastructure in Sfax

Because the city is developing mainly in a business direction, there are many comfortable hotels for businessmen. But there are almost no hotels for resorts in Sfax. There are only a few large hotels and many small private hotels for tourists. Quite simple apartments at an early booking will cost about $ 40 for two per day. Three-star hotel facilities – in the area of $ 90 dollars for two persons a day. But a posh five-star hotel (excellent food, pool, shuttle service, gardens, restaurants) will cost about $ 180 dollars (double room per night). Take your pick: a chic vacation in complete comfort (for a large sum) – or stay in a private mini-hotel in the heart of the city (feeling the color of the country and saving money).

Sfax belongs to Tunisia, and therefore for travelers – Russians have great news: they do not need a visa. These conditions apply if your stay in Tunisia will not exceed three months, and you visit the country only as a tourist. Upon arrival you will only be asked to show your passport and, in rare cases, a confirmation of tourist intentions.

Security

Sfax is a developed city, so the environment is generally good. When visiting Tunisia you need to keep in mind a few important things that will be relevant at any resort and in any city:

  • For your own safety, take out medical insurance for the entire period of stay in the country;
  • Do not forget about pickpockets and crooks, and do not give them an excuse to get rich;
  • In Tunisia it is customary to wear quite closed clothes, of course, we are not talking about the beaches;
  • It is best to drink bottled water;
  • Buy protection against the sun’s rays in advance.

Attractions in Sfax

Apart from the formal, business and not particularly conducive to fun part of the city, there is a lot to see in Sfax.

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The main square of Sfax is usually considered a place where you can take an antique carriage ride. For a token fee, you will be taken for a ride around the medina wall as well as through the wider streets of European buildings.

There is a beautiful, ancient medina with temples, markets, and mosques. The city’s medina was severely destroyed by air raids during World War II. But after the war it was painstakingly rebuilt during the development of an already independent Tunisia. Now the medina is a must-see for tourists and a favorite destination for local residents. From the wall that surrounds the medina there is a beautiful view of the city. There is a special one in the narrow streets of the medina of Sfax through which even two people can pass only in close embrace – such a romantic street.

In general, the medina is a perfect example of the complex of oriental bazaars. There are stores everywhere, selling everything in the world. Weavers, smiths, merchants of products and souvenirs – many artisans work and sell the fruits of their labor right here. Walking around this shopping quarter, you can spend several hours.

From the Eastern temple architecture are interesting several buildings. The Great Mosque of the Two Old Ladies (Jami El Azuzain) was built in the 9th century. After that the building was rebuilt and restored, the final look of the mosque received about the 18th century. Inside you can not go, but you can see the patterned walls, high minaret, the ancient Arabic script. The Lord of the Sea Mosque (Sidi El Bahri) stands on a hill. Next to it is the mausoleum of the famous Arab sailor.

Most tourists are eager to visit the Museum of Popular Arts, which occupies the building of a luxurious Spanish palace. Dar Jelloulie Palace was erected in the 18th century, when it was dominated by the Spaniards, as already described in the article. The palace itself was built in the Baroque style, and it houses an equally attractive museum. The exhibit, which you can see in this museum, presents items of everyday life of the inhabitants of the city in different historical eras. You can see real masterpieces here, especially among the examples of armory craftsmanship. It also contains a huge collection of manuscripts of Arabic origin.

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Not all of Sfax is built in the Arab tradition. In the so-called “New Town” there are examples of colonial buildings – under French rule. Thus, it is the City Hall and the current French Consulate. In the new part of town tourists are waiting for wider streets, many Tunisian plants, landscaped boulevards with benches, many stores and catering facilities.

There is a museum of archaeology in Sfax. It is located in the center of the modern city. Inside the museum you can view the archaeological finds from the territory of Sfax and all of Tunisia. The time frame is wide: prehistoric artifacts, many artifacts of Roman culture, Arab exhibits. Tourists note that the museum offers very good tours and has information boards in different languages.

Entertainment in Sfax

There are almost no decent places to relax on the beach in the city limits. And this is not surprising, because, as we have already noted, the main direction for foreigners going to this city today is trade and business. However, in recent years, attempts have been made in Sfax to develop the city also in the tourist direction.

The most comfortable beaches are found in these places on the islands of Kerkenna.

The archipelago of Kerkenna is located a few kilometers from the city. The islands of the archipelago are covered with picturesque tropical forests. It was there that it was decided to create an infrastructure for the development of tourism in the region. Some of the islands have already become a construction site, where hotels are now being built. Those that have already been built, receive tourists, providing them with comfortable conditions for a wonderful holiday. Kerkenny is beautiful precisely because of the cleanliness of the beaches and sea.

An interesting place to visit for families with children will be the zoo in Sfax. Touta Zoo is quite compact, however, there are a lot of animals, there is a playground.

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Cuisine and Shopping

After a walk through the markets and shops, of course, want to buy souvenirs. From Sfax, as a memento of the trip and as a gift for family and friends, you can bring:

  • pottery;
  • branded sauce;
  • bright textile products;
  • leather shoes;
  • embroidered carpets;
  • linen with calligraphy;
  • delicious dates;
  • olive oil;
  • spices and spices;
  • incense, traditional for such countries.

The cuisine in Sfax, as in all Tunisia in general, is Mediterranean, only here there is more variety of spices, spices, herbs, spices, sauces. Tunisians love tuna dishes, they inherited from the French their love for pasta.

You may try such dishes as tajine-ez-zitun (stewed veal), mashvi (baked lamb, for the hungry), couscous (you can take it with vegetables, for vegetarians). And this is not a complete list of dishes.

Especially in Sfax you should not neglect the seafood (the sea is nearby, and it will be fresh), especially praise shrimp with Sfax sauce. There’s also a lot to please those with a sweet tooth. It is considered that the best sweets are right here! Confectionery establishments of Sfax sell products, including by kilograms, that is, you can take a little by little in just one bag and enjoy a variety of desserts. A kilogram of sweets will cost up to 800 rubles.

After reading this article, it is clear that, traveling to Tunisia, you should not neglect this city. It is especially good if you can travel around the country as a whole, because in Tunisia the capital and the ancient ruins in different places are beautiful. But also Sfax is developing very well now in terms of tourism, so you can plan your trip here in 2022.

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